A retail call center is a hive of activity, with ringing phones, the constant chatter of agents and clacking keyboards. Until recently, though, each of these activities was performed in a technology silo; the calling system, the customer relationship management software, the analytics to measure call times and drop-off rates, each lived in its own place.
As the pandemic has plunged the world into widespread social distancing, retail call centers have become even busier than ever as customers need help navigating this new paradigm. In response, retailers have been seeking a way to strengthen their workforce by better unifying communications—this is where unified communications as a service (UCaaS) can make a difference. Fortune Business Insights predicts the UCaaS market to reach $36.45 billion by 2026, propelled by the increasing adoption of smartphones and tablets.
What is UCaaS?
Unified communications as a service, or UCaaS, had already been growing in popularity, but now it's become vital. And because core functionality is the cloud UCaaS can deliver increased uptime, an improved collaboration experience, and increased security. UCaaS facilitates connecting employees and teams, breaks down silos that can easily emerge in the modern business, and enables better collaboration and communication between workers. Imagine a system where a call gets pinged to the right agent because the system knows the customer's history, and then that agent can message colleagues to retrieve the necessary information without putting the customer on hold.
Improving customer service in retail with UCaaS
UCaaS offers enterprise-grade call control, voicemail, instant messaging, presence and enterprise mobility, which can be integrated into existing enterprise systems. Moreover, it is readily available and highly reliable, resilient and secure.
Because it's a unified platform that includes calling and collaboration for the contact center, UCaaS can enable agents to collaborate more closely and effectively, and access the right internal and external resources, such as connecting a customer with a subject matter expert when needed. The integration of disparate technologies helps to streamline the supply chain and order tracking, and it’s responsiveness and speed to market helps to convert sales more quickly and build customer satisfaction.
Agents can engage with customers when, where and how they want to —by phone, messenger, email, chat—and can solve customer issues more quickly by bringing together the right subject matter experts, agents and key data at the moment of interaction. Less "we'll get back to you," and more "here's how we can solve this for you."
Building a successful retail customer experience strategy
Decision makers focused on improving customer service in retail should examine their customer experience strategy from a holistic perspective. UCaaS can help to connect the dots and empower both agents with information and customers to personalize their experience.
Understanding the current customer experience
Don't just dig into any internal analytics you have around call volume, wait times, drop-off rates and so on. While important, they're only part of the picture. Also, make sure to speak with your customers to understand their journey through your systems. You may be surprised by what you discover.
User behavior analytics
Track how customers work their way through your systems, both online and offline. Behavior analytics can show you how customers interact with your business at each touch point, even those interactions that occur before the customer reaches your store or call center. Consider customer experience design, making the journey intuitive for outsiders, and place that at the forefront of decision-making.
Personalization is tricky—it can help with improving customer service in retail, but it can also turn customers away. It requires that customers share their personal data so that retailers can get to know them and their needs better. But with data security regulations becoming more robust, customers are becoming more comfortable with sharing their data, particularly with brands they trust.
With the right data, retailers can suggest the right products and services that meet customer needs; but data needs to be handled well. According to Smart Insights, 63% of consumers will stop buying from brands that use poor personalization tactics.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning
The real transformative technology in retail call centers is artificial intelligence (AI). Using AI to detect customer sentiment—analyzing things like tone of voice and cadence of language—has the potential to offer positive results such as better service, greater revenues and stronger brand loyalty. Harnessing Big Data and using machine learning to get to know customers better leads to improved personalization.
But that's not all that AI brings to a retail call center. Customers are used to interactive voice response systems, but what about AI-enabled conversational agents? These are expected to handle 20% of all customer service requests by 2022, which means retail call centers will need unified communication and collaboration.